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Pope Francis ends U.S. visit. Here's what we are left to think about

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Divide less and love more, was the basic theme of Pope Francis' tour.

Pope Francis returned to Rome on Sunday, leaving Americans to think about all he said and did during his first-ever American visit. The visit, which started in Cuba and lasted 10 days, was marked by surprises as Pope Francis demonstrated by example how to pastor the flock.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
9/28/2015 (6 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Pope Francis, United States, tour, message, Mass, celebration, politics, love, commandment

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has ended his tour of Cuba and the United States, having demonstrated an incredible talent for leadership. Deftly stepping around political landmines, the Holy Father did what he may be most famous for, he tended his flock.

While the media hoped to catch him saying something off-the-cuff they could use to promote their biases, Pope Francis left them unsatisfied as he stuck to basics and demonstrated how we should be to one another.

Starting in Cuba, Pope Francis got along well with Raul Castro, the president of that country and the brother of iconic Fidel Castro. Raul confessed his affinity for the Catholic Church and pledged to attend all of the Pope's Masses. The media waited for the Pope to ask Castro for permission expand the Church's official role in that country, but the request never came, much to the chagrin of observers.

FIND PHOTOS FROM POPE FRANCIS' COMPLETE U.S. VISIT HERE

However, just minutes before departing Cuba, Pope Francis delivered a diplomatic masterstroke, appealing directly to the Cuban people to make the difference for themselves. Asking them to stop relying on the government and admonishing them to "do for yourselves" he proposed that the faithful build their church by simply doing good deeds. The logic follows that if a church community does good things, it cannot help but grow and that growth will make opposition impossible -if it is done right.



Upon arrival in the United States, Pope Francis stepped around a landmine prepared for him by Barack Obama. In a reception stacked with anti-life and anti-marriage advocates, Pope Francis remained warm and amicable and gave the starving media nothing to feed their agendas. By his actions, Pope Francis suggested that he would remain firmly in control of his own message.

Pope Francis' parades were anxiously watched. Riding in a humble Fiat, he repeatedly stopped his motorcade to kiss and bless children and the sick. On one occasion, a young girl slipped past security into the street to deliver a letter to Pope Francis. He ordered the motorcade stopped and he accepted her petition, which was a request he protect her parents who are in the United States illegally.

On Thursday, Pope Francis addressed Congress, admonishing them to stop casting both issues and people as "all good or all bad," an extremely negative habit in American politics. Reminding Congress of their responsibility to lead the American people as Moses led the Israelites, he recited the Golden Rule. Pope Francis also called for environmental consideration and the global abolition of the death penalty. He also called for Congress to protect marriage and the family, and to welcome refugees, although he avoided specifics on these issues. Pope Francis reminded Congress that they too are the descendants of immigrant families.

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The impact of the speech was underscored by Speaker John Boehner who could be seen crying into a napkin behind the Pontiff. Boehner subsequently announced he would resign as Speaker at the end of October.

Following his speech to Congress, Pope Francis allegedly ditched an invitation to lunch with Congressional elites and instead attended Mass and lunch with the homeless.

In New York, Pope Francis addressed the UN General Assembly, and he drove home points about climate change, the poor and refugees to an international audience. He spoke about "sacred rights" which included labor, land and lodging. He criticized drug trafficking and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He especially criticized the rise of the global elites, those few who reserve the majority of the world's wealth and power for themselves while excluding the "weak and disadvantaged." He also warned the UN against allowing its offices to be manipulated for ill.

After his speech to the UN, Pope Francis led an inter-faith prayer service at the 9/11 memorial which saw members of several world religions unite in prayer for peace.

Pope Francis ended the day with Mass before a crowd of 20,000 in Madison Square Garden, drawing a crowd that would be the envy of any rock band or headline celebrity. That Mass raised eyebrows because one of the readers, Mo Rocca, is very outspoken against the Church's teaching on homosexuality. It is unclear who sanctioned his appearance, if Pope Francis knew about Rocca or not. Given the level of security and attention paid to Pope Francis' visit, it is likely the Pope, or his staff, knew at least something about Rocca. Because Pope Francis has not commented however, the media is having difficulty spinning the appearance.

In Philadelphia, Pope Francis met with prison inmates, highlighting the importance of ministering to those in prison. Pope Francis explained to the prisoners, "I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother." Pope Francis did not only meet with prisoners, he also met with victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests.


During his final Mass, Pope Francis asked people to be less critical of one another and to be more welcoming to one another. "Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions," Pope Francis said during Mass in Philadelphia.

Pope Francis departed on a positive note, and expressing "gratitude and hope," he asked that God bless America.

Pope Francis performed exceptionally during his tour. Despite numerous political pitfalls and a hungry media waiting to pounce on his words, Pope Francis managed to avoid all controversy. He mostly stayed out of political fights, but he weighed in on the side of life, the family, and religious freedom, to the delight of conservatives. To the delight of liberals, Pope Francis called for an end to the death penalty and for protection of the environment.

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Pope Francis' abilities as a pastor, and as a shrewd leader are now established beyond all doubt. Americans must now mediate upon the message of Pope Francis, which is this:

-    We have divided ourselves needlessly in the name of political ideology.

-    We see too much through the eyes of our politics and not through the eyes of our faith.

-    We have obligations to one another, imposed by Christ. We need to divide and judge less and love one another more.

-    We have specific obligations to care for the environment, the poor and disenfranchised. We have a duty to minister to those in prison as well as the victims of crime.

-    Religious freedom, human life, and the institution of marriage must be protected.

The message cannot be delivered any more clearly than this. Let us pray that the nation heeds it and we, the people, demand the change we deserve.

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Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

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